Former Navy SEAL's Account Of Bin Laden Raid Differs From Govt. Version

Reply Wed 29 Aug, 2012 11:26 am
Former Navy SEAL's Account Of Bin Laden Raid Differs From Govt. Version
August 29, 2012
by Eyder Peralta - NPR

The Associated Press and The Huffington Post have gotten their hands on early copies of No Easy Day. As Mark wrote earlier this month, the book is a firsthand account of the secret military raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

It's written by former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette, who is using the pseudonym Mark Owen. According to the AP, the authors account differs from the account given by the United States government.

The AP reports:

"Bissonnette says he was directly behind a "point man" going up the stairs in the pitch black hallway. 'Less than five steps' from top of the stairs, he heard 'suppressed' gunfire: 'BOP. BOP.' The point man had seen a 'man peeking out of the door' on the right side of the hallway.

"The author writes that bin Laden ducked back into his bedroom and the SEALs followed, only to find the terrorist crumpled on the floor in a pool of blood with a hole visible on the right side of his head and two women wailing over his body.

"Bissonnette says the point man pulled the two women out of the way and shoved them into a corner and he and the other SEALs trained their guns' laser sites on bin Laden's still-twitching body, shooting him several times until he lay motionless. The SEALs later found two weapons stored by the doorway, untouched, the author said."

The government said that bin Laden was shot dead because the SEALs feared he had a weapon. Bissonnette's description is bound to bring up questions about whether the SEALs were on a kill mission.

This image courtesy of publisher Dutton, a member of Penguin Group USA, show the cover of the upcoming book "No Easy Day."

The AP reports that the author says a government lawyer specifically told them they were not on a kill mission. He writes that the lawyer said if bin Laden was naked and with his hands up they should not engage and if he puts up no resistance that he should be arrested.

The New York Daily News has also gotten their hands on the book, which was originally set for release Sept. 11 and is now being released Sept. 4.

The Daily News quotes the Huffington Post saying that the author writes some of the SEALs on the mission were not fans of Obama. The Daily News reports:

"The 36-year-old SEAL said he was pleased President Obama gave the order to proceed but the team knew he would take credit for Bin Laden's death if the mission was successful.

"'Although we applauded the decision-making in this case, there was no doubt in anybody's mind that he would take all the political credit for this too,' Owen writes."

Update at 11:13 a.m. ET. On Meeting Joe Biden:

The Huffington Post was one of the first to get their hands on the book. They have a great report on their site. Among other things, they report that the author slams Vice President Joe Biden, writing that he "he reminded me of someone's drunken uncle at Christmas dinner..."

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Reply Wed 29 Aug, 2012 11:41 am

No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden
by Mark Owen and Kevin Maurer Authors

Book Description
Publication Date: September 4, 2012

For the first time anywhere, the first-person account of the planning and execution of the Bin Laden raid from a Navy Seal who confronted the terrorist mastermind and witnessed his final moments.

From the streets of Iraq to the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips in the Indian Ocean, and from the mountaintops of Afghanistan to the third floor of Osama Bin Laden’s compound, operator Mark Owen of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group--commonly known as SEAL Team Six-- has been a part of some of the most memorable special operations in history, as well as countless missions that never made headlines.

No Easy Day puts readers alongside Owen and the other handpicked members of the twenty-four-man team as they train for the biggest mission of their lives. The blow-by-blow narrative of the assault, beginning with the helicopter crash that could have ended Owen’s life straight through to the radio call confirming Bin Laden’s death, is an essential piece of modern history.

In No Easy Day, Owen also takes readers onto the field of battle in America’s ongoing War on Terror and details the selection and training process for one of the most elite units in the military. Owen’s story draws on his youth in Alaska and describes the SEALs’ quest to challenge themselves at the highest levels of physical and mental endurance. With boots-on-the-ground detail, Owen describes numerous previously unreported missions that illustrate the life and work of a SEAL and the evolution of the team after the events of September 11. In telling the true story of the SEALs whose talents, skills, experiences, and exceptional sacrifices led to one of the greatest victories in the War on Terror, Mark Owen honors the men who risk everything for our country, and he leaves readers with a deep understanding of the warriors who keep America safe.

About the Authors

Mark Owen a former member of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group, commonly known as SEAL Team Six. In his many years as a Navy SEAL, he has participated in hundreds of missions around the globe, including the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips in the Indian Ocean in 2009. Owen was a team leader on Operation Neptune Spear in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 1, 2011, which resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden. Owen was one of the first men through the door on the third floor of the terrorist mastermind’s hideout, where he witnessed Bin Laden’s death. Mark Owen’s name and the names of the other SEALs mentioned in No Easy Day have been changed for their security.

Kevin Maurer has covered special operations forces for nine years. He has been embedded with the Special Forces in Afghanistan six times, spent a month in 2006 with special operations units in east Africa, and has embedded with U.S. forces in Iraq and Haiti. He is the author of four books, including several about special operations.

Reply Wed 29 Aug, 2012 12:02 pm
Aug. 28, 2012
CIA balked at chance to kill bin Laden in ‘99, Polish ex-spy says
By Roy Gutman | McClatchy Newspapers

WARSAW, Poland -- ]

In late 1999, two years before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people, a group of Afghan agents loyal to an anti-Taliban guerrilla leader proposed assassinating Osama bin Laden. All they wanted was the $5 million reward the Clinton administration had offered for bin Laden’s capture, says a former Polish spy who was the Afghans’ go-between on the plot.

The CIA rejected the plan, however, saying, "We do not have a license to kill."

The story, the centerpiece of “Ferreting out bin Laden,” a book by former spy Alexander Makowski that was published in Poland in June but isn’t yet available in English, offers previously unknown details about how the United States missed warning signs of the deadliest foreign attack ever on U.S. soil. It’s told from the perspective of an allied intelligence service whose specialty is human intelligence – recruiting and running agents – not the technological monitoring that’s considered the U.S.’s strength.

“They gave us the exact location of the houses where bin Laden would be staying in Kandahar, the route he would be taking between his living quarters, his meeting place, and what kind of transportation he would be using,” Makowski told McClatchy in a recent interview, referring to the city in southern Afghanistan that was the Taliban’s seat of power. The Afghans planned to use car bombs to kill the Saudi-born leader of al Qaida.

But on Oct. 14, 1999, a CIA officer whom Makowski identified as "Jim" flew to Warsaw with a response. “I would like everyone here to be absolutely clear on one thing: We do not have a license to kill,” “Jim” told top officials at the headquarters of Polish intelligence. Makowski, at the time a businessman, said he was at the meeting.

“We have to capture bin Laden safe and sound so that he can stand trial and be sentenced legally,” Makowski quotes the officer as saying. “Any other solution is out of the question. CIA operates within the American legal order.”

According to Makowski, the intelligence proved accurate: Bin Laden arrived in Kandahar as planned and stayed in the house as had been predicted. Could the Afghans have killed him? “I have no doubt,” he said.

Bin Laden’s death in 1999 could have changed the American role in the world today, particularly if his death had demoralized al Qaida enough that it abandoned its 9/11 plans. Both the war in Afghanistan, which continues to this day, and the war in Iraq, which claimed nearly 4,500 American troops, were outgrowths of the 9/11 attacks, as was the increase in anti-Americanism in much of the Muslim world.

But Makowski’s book isn’t about the world that might have been. Instead, he uses the aborted bin Laden assassination plot as the basis for a much broader criticism: that the U.S. government, including the CIA, faced with a choice between a fundamentalist Taliban regime that had taken power in 1996 and the Taliban’s main rival, guerrilla leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, sided with the Taliban.

The bin Laden mission was not the only missed opportunity that Makowski highlights. He also blames the CIA for the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen in October 2000, which claimed the lives of 17 American sailors.

“Beginning in 1999, for almost a year, we started giving information that bin Laden had made a decision to prepare an operation to attack U.S. warships in the Gulf,” Makowski told McClatchy.

“We started supplying details. There was a 27-person team, the command was divided and it was based in Dubai. We told them who its leader was, his passport number, his Dubai identity card and that they were preparing to attack a U.S. warship,” he said.

At first the CIA asked for more information. But after seven or eight months of reporting, the agency wrote back that the information is interesting “but they think such an attack is impossible,” Makowski said. Three months later, the Cole was attacked as it was in port in Yemen.

“To me, the most appalling thing is that after we supplied all this information about an attack on a warship in the Gulf, the Cole wasn’t protected in any way,” Makowski said.

The CIA had no comment on the book or on Makowski’s assertions. A former senior U.S. intelligence official said he’d never heard of Makowski, but he declined to speak on the record. Michael Scheuer, who from 1996 to 1999 headed the CIA’s special “Alec station,” which monitored bin Laden, said he was unaware of Polish intelligence on the terrorist leader.

Makowski’s former colleague, Gromoslaw Czempinski, who’s a legend at the CIA for having led the rescue of six U.S. intelligence officers from Iraq in 1990, vouches for his story, however.

“The Americans didn’t believe us. They said, ‘We have better sources than you do,’ ” Czempinski told McClatchy. “We offered them bin Laden, but they refused.”

Makowski’s credentials are many. The son of a spy, he speaks fluent English, attended primary school in Great Britain and high school in the United States, and received a postgraduate law degree from Harvard. He graduated from the Polish military intelligence academy at Stare Kiejkuty, also the location of one of the so-called "black sites" where the CIA interrogated – and some say tortured – suspected terrorists, including the alleged mastermind of the Cole attack, Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, who now faces trial before a military commission at Guantanamo.

Makowski spent 20 years in the Polish espionage service under the communist regime, rising to the rank of colonel, in charge of spying on the democratic opposition and tracking its finances. When the communist government collapsed, he was mustered out in 1990 and went into private business, though he never left the world of espionage behind.

He gave McClatchy this account of his conversations with Massoud:

Massoud was desperate for arms, financial support and a relationship with the United States when he reached out to Makowski in 1997. At the time, Makowski was selling arms manufactured by the Polish state arms industry.

Arriving at Massoud’s Panjshir valley redoubt in northern Afghanistan, Makowski introduced himself as a former spy. Massoud wanted to purchase three things: $150 million in Polish arms, equipment to mine emeralds and an arrangement to print Afghan currency in Poland. A high Polish intelligence official checked first with the CIA.

“The CIA isn’t interested in Massoud. He’s not on their agenda. They don’t want us to sell him any arms,” the Polish official reported after a visit to Langley, Va., where the CIA’s headquarters are. The CIA did say it had no objection to selling the mining equipment or printing money in Poland.

Massoud and Makowski’s relationship deepened, and eventually Massoud offered Makowski access to the extensive intelligence network he’d built while fighting Soviet occupation in the 1980s and carried on after the Taliban ousted the regime of Burhanuddin Rabbani, in which Massoud was the defense minister.

Soon Makowski was focused on bin Laden.

“There was a period of 12 months when we were tracking bin Laden basically day to day,” he told McClatchy. He said he’d supplied the Polish intelligence services with “everything Massoud’s service had on al Qaida, on bin Laden and on the Taliban structures.” The Polish service passed the information to the CIA, which sent “tons” of follow-up questions, Makowski said.

Makowski thinks that was why Massoud granted him the access to his network in the first place.

But the CIA didn’t warm to Massoud, Makowski said, and it’s unclear whether the information reached all the CIA analysts who were monitoring bin Laden. Scheuer, for one, said he couldn’t recall “hearing of any information from a Polish government source on al Qaida." He added, "I know that period pretty well."

Makowski now thinks that Massoud held back intelligence about bin Laden and the 9/11 plot because of the CIA’s lack of interest. “I am aware of the fact that the development of modern Afghanistan doesn’t matter to the Americans,” Makowski recalls Massoud telling him in August 1999.

He knew, however, that the United States was interested in bin Laden, and he feared that if bin Laden were killed, the U.S. would reach an accommodation with the Taliban. He decided to play it coy, Makowski says. “I will stall for time until I make sure they had stopped supporting the Taliban and are ready to support me instead," Makowski said Massoud had concluded.

In mid-June 2000, Massoud practically ordered his commanders not to cooperate with the CIA in hunting down bin Laden. Makowski thinks Massoud also avoided telling the Americans of bin Laden’s plan for the 9/11 strikes.

“I think there is a very good case that he allowed this to happen,” Makowski told McClatchy, speaking of 9/11.

Unfortunately, Massoud missed a key part of bin Laden’s 9/11 planning: Massoud’s own assassination, which took place on the eve of the Sept. 11 attack.

“If it were not for his death days before, all the pieces would have fallen into place, and Massoud would have been returned to power," Makowski says, referring to the U.S.-led post-9/11 campaign that swept the Taliban from power.

How did Massoud, the master of intelligence in Afghanistan, fail to spot the assassination plot against him?

“Intelligence failure,” Makowski said. “You have those things even in the best intelligence service."

Jonathan S. Landay in Washington and McClatchy special correspondent Barbara Dziedzic in Warsaw contributed to this report.

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Reply Wed 29 Aug, 2012 12:49 pm
Its a ******* pi;e of crap. He even used a pseudonym very similar to famous author Mark Bowden(Blackhawk Down, Guests of the Ayatolla) , who has a aervice authorized book on killing bin Laden. Bowdens books was written from info from several seals who had been given permission to be interviewed (this included Bissonnette). This "Mark" is trying to make a story out of some dubious pieces of information that was above his pay grade
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Reply Fri 31 Aug, 2012 07:44 am
The former Navy SEAL who just wrote a book about the Osama bin Laden raid is in violation of the non-disclosure agreements he signed, the Department of Defense General Counsel said Thursday.

General Counsel Jeh Johnson wrote in a letter to "Mark Owen," the author’s pen name, that by selling his book he aggravates the violation.

"We've got to get serious about leaks of classified information," a senior Defense official told NBC News. "As unpalatable as it may seem to go after this Navy SEAL, if we do nothing there is no deterrence, nothing to prevent others from doing the same."

The letter, sent via the attorney at Penguin Putnam publishing, explains that Owen signed two separate non-disclosure agreements on Jan. 24, 2007, and that he has an obligation to "never divulge" classified information.

Read the Department of Defense letter

"This commitment remains in force even after you left the active duty Navy," it says.

He also signed a "Sensitive Compartmented Information Debriefing Memorandum" when he left the Navy around April 20, 2012, according to the letter.

"The Department of Defense has obtained and reviewed an advanced copy of the book," the letter says, adding, "In the judgment of the Department of Defense, you are in material breach and violation of the non-disclosure agreements you signed."

"Further public dissemination of your book will aggravate your breach and violation of your agreements."

"The Department is considering pursuing against, and all those acting in concert with you, all remedies legally available to us in light of this situation."

The senior Defense official said, "There has to be consequences" for someone who violates the non-disclosure agreements prohibiting the release of classified information.

The official also suggested that by revealing "tactics, techniques and procedures" employed by the Navy SEALS during the raid, "it could put other operators at risk and future operations in jeopardy."

Reply Fri 31 Aug, 2012 07:58 am
I wonder how this book will compare to the up and coming Kathryn Bigelow film of the operation, Zero Dark Thirty (2012): 19 December 2012 theatrical release date.
Reply Fri 31 Aug, 2012 08:26 am
I haven't really kept up with the whole issue of the upcoming of the film. I gather there is some controversy because the filmmakers were given a lot of access to the CIA and Pentagon.

Spanning across four large digital documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the fruits of Judicial Watch's labor were to supposedly show how “the Obama administration granted Boal and Bigelow unusual access to agency information in preparation for their film,” according to the organization. Through the words and actions of government media relations officials though, what's emphasized instead are the actions taken by the government to learn about the then-varied bin Laden projects in development and conversations with the team behind “The Hurt Locker,” a film that officials visibly state affection for in the documents, and what were the best and most intriguing methods of doing so.

That's not to say there weren't thorough exchanges of information between filmmakers and government. Boal is noted as interviewing both CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell as well as the translator present at the May 2, 2011 raid that killed bin Laden, and going to CIA and DOD sources for other minor specifics, such as floor schematics accurately matching bin Laden's hideout (which the CIA confirmed). There also exists perhaps some preferential bias from CIA officials toward the project with “the most money behind it, and two Oscar winners on board,” extending further to Bigelow (whose voice remains disappointingly scarce throughout) and her appealing involvement with military charity Joining Forces.

Nowhere though are any exchanges confirming Judicial Watch's claim of rule-breaking, or at least not on the government's end. In a blatant case of throwing a colleague under the bus, New York Times national security writer Mark Mazzetti leaked to the CIA another column about the bin Laden film from writer Maureen Dowd, which took a swipe at Obama's administration for having “outsourced the job of manning up the president's image to Hollywood.” Even though Boal has already stated Obama is never even depicted, and the release date for “Zero Dark Thirty” has wisely been pushed from its previous October bow to after Election Day in December, that opinion will continue to remain.

Stopping just short of exclaiming “Blue Steel” to be an underrated masterpiece, the star-struck exchanges (complete with emoticons) between government officials and Bigelow/Boal do mildly raise cause for alarm, but any actual over-sharing of information on either the CIA or DOD's part remains notably absent in the documents -- and therefore still plenty exposed to politically minded accusations. For now though, “Zero Dark Thirty” remains shrouded behind a hint-filled teaser and a massive cast list, including Joel Edgerton, Jessica Chastain, Edgar Ramirez, Kyle Chandler, Mark Strong, Chris Pratt, Jason Clarke, Harold Perrineau, Nash Edgerton, Jennifer Ehle, Fares Fares, and so we'll have to wait until December 19th to see the extent of Bigelow and Boal's impressive research.

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